Home' Northern Outlook : August 31st 2013 Contents 8 NORTHERN OUTLOOK, AUGUST 31, 2013
Authorised by Keith Galloway
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Brace yourself, sap is rising
GROW YOUR OWN: If you've not yet sown capsicum, get a move on.
This column is adapted from
the e-newsletter Get Growing
from New Zealand Gardener.
To subscribe to Get Growing
visit the NZ Gardener website
at nzgardener.co.nz, and click
on the Get Growing tab. To
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By VIRGIL EVETTS
Keep Your Guard Up
Spring is rightly called the
cruellest season, because it can
switch from mild to miserably bit-
ter at the drop of a hat. This is
rough on livestock and wildlife
obviously, but it can take its toll
on gardens too.
Tender seedlings, especially let-
tuces, are vulnerable to gusty
wind, shredding hail and even, as
I found recently, heavy rain. DIY
cloches are easy to make and a
great way of protecting seedlings
in situ. Bend lengths of chicken
wire around a large post first to
create a uniform, gutter shape.
For most seedlings this only
needs to be about 30cm high.
Cover the wire frame with frost
cloth or recycled bubblewrap and
anchor down at the corners.
Crimp the ends closed, but leave
space for some air flow as you
don t want to cook your plants
alive. Once your seedlings are
past the feeble, floppy stage, the
cloche can come off.
Did you see the news about the
whopping price of peppers? In one
orange capsicums are selling for
$7.19 each. Our advice? Don t buy
them -- grow them.
If you ve not yet sown capsicum
and chilli seeds, get a move on! My
favourite sweet variety is Cornos ,
with its big, fleshy sweet fruit.
Like many older cultivars, these
perform much better outdoors
than the boxy supermarket types
which were bred for hothouses
and tend to sulk out in the open.
Virgil s rule of thumb is to sow
more sweet peppers than you
think you ll need because some
years are better than others. And
plant fewer hot chillies than you
think you ll need, because unless
you ve got a cast-iron constitution
it takes an age to get through 500
or more fiery red bullets.
Capsicum and chilli seeds need
constant warmth to germinate,
ideally 18 to 23 degrees Celsius.
Within this range germination
should occur in 3 to 5 days. Below
18C, it may not occur at all. Use a
heat pad, heated bathroom tiles or
any other warm spot.
Another tip from Gerard at
Kings Seeds: Capsicums require
heat but not light to germinate so
sow fresh seed into a small con-
tainer, such as a 2-litre ice cream
tub, water to thoroughly moisten
the seed-raising mix, cover the
container in plastic wrap and put
it in your hot water cupboard. The
plastic wrap will stop moisture
escaping and keep it nice and
humid. Once the seeds sprout,
take the container out, take the
plastic off and expose your see-
dlings to the light so they can
green up. This also works for egg-
plants and tomatoes.
In areas with variable summers
(some years that can feel like the
whole of New Zealand), grow
sweet peppers in large pots. That
way you can move the plants
under cover -- either into a tunnel-
house or under the eaves of your
house (or even indoors in a sunny
room) to continue growing at the
end of summer. All going to plan,
you could be picking peppers (for a
fraction of the cost) this time next
Start Basil For Summer
Basil can be a real fusspot. It
hates cold wet soil, hot dry soil,
low light, too much sun and frost.
Start basil seeds indoors now,
preferably on a heat pad, and by
early October they ll be just the
right size to plant out.
Success With Coriander
Coriander often succumbs to
transplant shock and bolts to
seed, but you can trick it by star-
ting your seeds in cardboard pulp
Fill cartons with seed-raising
mix, add a few seeds to each sec-
tion, mist well with water, pop the
whole carton into a plastic bag
and place in a warm spot until
germination occurs. Keep the see-
dlings indoors until the first true
leaves have formed then wrench
apart the compartments and plant
out, paper and all. The roots will
grow straight through the soggy
sides and the plants will be none
Plant Onion Seedlings
Transplant onion seedlings now
for a mid-late summer harvest
(this depends on the variety).
You re bound to lose a few of the
frail things to mishaps over the
coming weeks, so overcrowd them
a bit to begin with. In a month or
so you can thin them and make
new rows with the evictees.
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